• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Adrian Reland, <i>Imperium Japonicum,</i> first European map to use Sino-Japanese characters, Amsterdam, circa 1740. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John Overton, <i>A New & Most Exact Map of America,</i> hand colored, London, 1671. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John James Audubon, <i>The Birds of America & Quadrupeds of North America,</i> together in 10 matching octavo bindings. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Cornelis de Jode, <i>Hemispheriu ab Aequinoctiali Linea,</i> Antwerp, 1593. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Currier & Ives, <i>Across the Continent,</i> New York, 1868, formerly in the collection of Thomas Winthrop Streeter. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Frederick Sander, <i>Reichenbachia, Orchids Illustrated & Described,</i> in four volumes, St. Albans, 1888-94. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Color woodblock map of Uraga and Edo Bay showing the course of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship squadron, Japan, circa 1854. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Manuscript report on the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, with 2 portraits of Perry & Commander H. A. Adams, Japan. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Edward Lear, <i>Castello di Melfi in Basilicata,</i> ink, graphite & watercolor, 1847. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1603. $3,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Philippe Vandermaelen, North American volume of the first atlas to use lithography, Brussels, 1827. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, <i>A Chart of the Coast,</i> from the <i>Atlantic Neptune,</i> London, 1780. $18,000 to $22,000.
  • <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> WETZEL, CHARLES M. American Fishing Books. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> BISSELL, ALFRED E., <i>In Pursuit of Salar.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> <i>The Settler and Sportsman in Anticosti.</i> $400 to $600
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> CARLETON, HENRY GUY, <i>Advice to Young Anglers.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> ROBINSON, ROLAND EVANS, <i>Forest and Stream Fables. By Awahsoose the Bear.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SAWADA, KEN, <i>The Art of the Classic Salmon Fly.</i> $300 to $500
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>The Evolution of Trout and Trout Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>Trout Fly-Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
  • <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Huang Qianren. Complete Geographic Map of the Great Qing Dynasty. £50,000 to £80,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Book of Hours of Jean Le Sauvage and Jacqueline de Boulogne. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Abraham Ortelius. <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum. – Parergon. – Nomenclator ptolemaicus,</i> 1584. £80,000 to £120,000
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2018 Issue

Two Professors Believe They Have Cracked the Code of the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript

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Two of the better likenesses are the sunflower and armadillo.

Two university professors believe they have cracked the code to the Voynich Manuscript (or Codex). If so, they will have succeeded in solving a riddle that has stumped all sorts of researchers for the past century. The Voynich Manuscript is a 240-page book, handwritten in a language that has been undecipherable to even the greatest of code-breakers. It is filled with illustrations of plants and animals, most of which don't particularly look like anything known to exist. The one thing that has been generally accepted is that it is very old, based on carbon dating of its vellum pages. That dated it to 1403-1438. Professors Arthur O. Tucker and Jules Janick agree that it is very old, but not quite that old. They believe it is from the 16th century. As we will see, the earlier date put constraints on identification that Professors Tucker and Janick have broken through.

 

The first known appearance of the manuscript comes from around 1600 when it was purchased by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who may have believed it was the work of Roger Bacon. In 1666, it was given to Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher to decipher. It then disappears from sight until purchased from a Jesuit college by Polish bookseller Wilfred Voynich (hence its name) in 1912. Bookseller H. P. Kraus purchased it from the estate of Voynich's widow and gave it to Yale University's Beinecke Library in 1969.

 

Most attempts to crack the code have focused on the language. It is an unknown language with unknown letters. What can be said is there is a pattern to the words, repetition often found. Some have thought it resembled other languages. Still, no one has been able to figure it out sufficiently to translate it. Those who thought it was a hoax figured it's just a nonsense language. However, those who so believe diminished once its age was more clearly established.

 

Others have looked at the illustrations, and these are a bit more helpful. Researchers have described its sections as herbals, pharmaceuticals, astrology/astronomy, and biology. Most illustrations are of plants and flowers. There are zodiac like illustrations adorned with many naked women. The biological part also consists of lots of nude women, but in pools of water. Tucker and Janick have focused on the many illustrations of plants, and to a lesser degree of animals. That makes sense as Tucker is an emeritus herbarium director at Delaware State University, Janick distinguished professor of horticulture at Purdue University. However, there is a problem. The plants have also been unidentifiable, often fantastic looking drawings of plants not known to exist.

 

Certainly, these plants were unknown to Europeans. The generally accepted dating of the manuscript of the early 15th century mostly eliminated the work as representing any place other than Europe, and certainly not America. However, if the date is moved back a century, post-Columbus, that opens the New World to consideration. Not that New World plants were never considered. Not long ago, a theory was proposed that the book was created by a Christian sect driven from their homeland early in the 15th century. The theory says they took off for parts unknown, ending up in Venezuela many years before Columbus. That seems a bit of a stretch, but explained some similarities to plant life in the New World.

 

However, if you move the date back a century or more, a New World setting becomes plausible. That is not to say these plants are easily identifiable as American either. It takes greater knowledge of New World plants, or as the authors have concluded, ones specifically from Mexico, to see the connection. They believe they have identified 59 of the 362 plant drawings as being of plants indigenous to Mexico. Much of the problem in making the connection, they think, has to do with limitations of artistic skills, the absence of many colors of ink to use, and fading over the centuries of those colors that were employed.

 

Along with the plants, Tucker and Janick have identified 12 animals native to the New World. Those include the armadillo, alligator gar, horned lizard, jaguarondi, and coatimundi.

 

Not only do they believe they have identified where the Voynich manuscript was created (Mexico), they have even named its writer and illustrator. How is that for confidence? The writers have named the author to be Gaspar de Torres, son of Spanish parents and a lawyer who defended the rights of local Indians, the illustrator Juan Gerson, a native artist. This is based on a name and initials said to appear on the first botanical illustration.

 

The explanation for the early 15th century carbon dating of the vellum is that it was washed and reused, something often done in the day when expensive vellum had to be used, rather than cheap paper. If their 16th century dating is right, it also explains images of a castle and harbor, and other things European in appearance. The Spanish-descended Torres likely would have had European books with him that Gerson could have used for illustrations. As for the strange, undeciphered language, the authors believe that it is a synthetic language, based on Nahuatl and Spanish, or perhaps based on an Aztec tongue. It remains untranslated.

 

Have the two professors cracked the code? Maybe. Some of these plants bear significant resemblances to known Mexican plants. In other cases, perhaps they are seeing greater resemblances than others may see. And, most of the plants remain unidentified, which is surprising if they all represent native species. Then again, the drawings are a bit fanciful and the quality of artistic reproduction something less than outstanding. The same may be said of the animals, though there are features of Mexican animals that could be present in the amateurish drawings. Maybe.

 

Professors Tucker and Janick have released their findings in a recently published book entitled Unraveling the Voynich Codex.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts Online<br>Ending December 17</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…</i> The Second Impression. 1632. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> GEORGE CURZON, 1ST MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON. “Curzon Tiger Hunt.” [India: circa 1901]. 120 albumen photographs. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> (CASSADY, NEAL). Kerouac, Jack. <i>On the Road.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1957. Inscribed. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> VEGA, JOSEPH PENSO DE LA. <i>Confusion de Confusiones. Dialogos curiosos entre un Philosopho agudo, un Mercader discrete...</i> Amsterdam, 1688. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> RACKHAM, ARTHUR — [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]. "The Moon Like to a Silver Bow New-Bent in Heaven," original illustration for <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream.</i> $12,000 to $18,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Malton, <i>Malton's Oxford,</i> 4 original parts, 1st edition, 1802-1804. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> John Papworth, <i>Select Views of London,</i> 1st edition, Ackermann, 1816. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> William Curtis, <i>Flora Londinensis,</i> 5 volumes, 1st edition, 1835. £5000 to £7000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Jerdon, <i>Illustrations of Indian Ornithology…,</i> 1st edition, 1847. From the ornithological library of Martin Woodcock. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> C. & J. Greenwood, <i>London from actual survey made in the years 1824, 1825 & 1826...,</i> 1830. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Joseph Smith, <i>The Book of Doctrine and Covenants,</i> 2nd European edition, Liverpool, 1849. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Khaqani, <i>Tuhfat al-’Iraqayn [‘The Gift of the Two Iraqs’],</i> probably Safavid Iran [c. 1600]. £700 to £1000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Steiff. A pair of rare Steiff rod bears, c. 1904. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Golden Cockerel Press, <i>Canterbury Tales, Illustrated by Eric Gill,</i> 4 volumes, 1929-31. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Lord Byron (1788-1824), A piece of red damask from the bridal bed curtain of Lord & Lady Byron, Seaham Hall, 1815. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), Autograph letter signed to an admiring Cambridge friend, the notable bookseller E.P. Goldschmidt, [1907]. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Eric Ambler, <i>Cause For Alarm,</i> 1st edition in dust jacket, inscribed by the author, 1938. £1500 to £2000
  • <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> LÉOPOLD II of Belgium. Autograph letter signed to Ferdinand de Lesseps. (Brusselss, 30th of August 1881. € 500 / 600
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique collection of c. 280 satirical postcards on Léopold II of Belgium.<br>€ 3.000 / 3.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Horae, use of Rouen, c. 1475.<br>€ 22.000 / 30.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> <i>Sensuyt la tresplaisante hystoire du preux et vaillant Guerin de Montglaue</i> [...]. € 6.000 / 8.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SCUTENAIRE, Louis. <i>Mes inscriptions.</i> 1945-1963. € 1.000 / 1.200
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Études Gèographiques [puzzle].<br>€ 70 / 100
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique series of fifty 19th-c. Persian miniatures. € 1.500 / 2.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SIXTUS IV. <i>De sanguine Christi et De potentia Dei,</i> 1474. € 4.500 / 6.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Joan Miró, lithographies. € 200 / 300
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> MERIAN, Anna Maria Sibylla. [Metamorphosis of a brown butterfly]. € 4.000 / 5.000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II<br>December 13, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Sibelius, Jean. Autograph manuscript of “Spagnuolo” for piano, boldly signed “Jean Sibelius.” $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Verdi, Giuseppe. Fourteen largely unpublished autograph letters signed to Alessandro Lanari, the “Napoleon of Impresarios.” $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Jefferson, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson") to William Lee, Monticello, 26 August 1816. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Whitman, Walt. Signed carte-de-visite photograph by Benjamin Gurney, 1875. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Wilde, Oscar. Autograph letter signed ("Oscar Wilde"). 8 pages on 2 bifolia of different sizes, with ink sketch on the first page. $25,000 to $30,000

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